On March 29th, 2016, solidCodeUs received an email which seemed to be coming from a large company that most of us already know about. In this email, they stated that solidCodeUs had been chosen to lead the development of a banking application, with a business model such as PayPal. They had also demanded that the project needed to be fully developed and delivered "in less than 5 weeks time". In our reply, we emphasized the fact that there were so much involved in building a banking application such as PayPal that it would make it impossible for us to successfully build and deliver this in less than 5 weeks time, as they had requested. After we had rejected the project under that delivery condition, we did not hear back from them regarding a job offer but there was plenty of communication between us, as they frequently asked our advice and opinions on different topics. A few months later, however, they asked us to build them a social networking website.
On July 21st, 2016, they contacted us, asking to build them a social networking site, They told us that they had a several Million Dollar budget and needed to build a social networking site with "5 times more features than Facebook", They wanted us to dedicate 10 designers, 10-12 front-end developers and as many back-end developers as needed to finish the project in 4-5 weeks time "MAX". We replied back telling them again that the delivery time was too short. We told them that such an application would need lots of planning, and would have to be version-released. We told them emphatically, that it would take at least 6 months to build such a platform. They refused to commit to 6 months completion time and we lost this job offer, as well.
Less than 2 months later. on November 3rd, they contacted us again, offering us 2 development projects, building an eCommerce website and also finishing up that banking application I have mentioned earlier. Again, they emphasized on a 5 week completion time. They also reminded us that since their huge company pays their employees on a monthly basis, we would be paid by the end of each month as well. This time we accepted the offer and started the work.
We assigned 7 developers to these projects, working over time, even Saturdays and Sundays and finished all work in 5 weeks as had been promised. In the meantime, by the end of the month, we had started complaining about the fact that we had not received any payments as we had originally agreed to. What it seems now, they used various tactics and different reasons to try to explain the delay in payment. They even sent us a "bank transaction ID', telling us that they had actually sent the money and it must be someplace in our bank lost in the transaction process. When we showed the "transaction ID" to our bank, we were told that they could not recognize it, as they had not seen such an ID format before. To further investigate the case, our bank wanted to know the name of their bank and the detail of the transaction. When we asked these questions from our "client" and requested the needed info, this is when communication all broke down and we never heard back from them again!
In retrospect, examining the original email header, we now know that we could have easily avoided this scam from the get-go. The email was actually marked as being sent by a large and a popular company that we were quite familiar with. However, looking more closely at the header, we now realize that a spoofing email delivery was used. The way these spoofing email providers work is that they provide you with a fake email id where you can send an email from anyone to anyone. For instance, one would be able to send an email from Microsoft Corp to your email address, giving you the good news that you have been hired by Microsoft and all you'd have to do is to fill out a credit check using a provided link. If you click on the link and fill out the form, they will then steal your personal information. If you look at the header of the email they sent us, you'd see that there is a third party mentioned at the end, which was the spoofing email provider. We cannot indulge with more info at this time as the case is under investigation and review.
Why always insist on a 4-5 weeks delivery deadline?
As mentioned earlier, with each project they offered us, there was also a delivery deadline of 4-5 weeks restriction. You may have already come up with your own conclusion as why, but if you have not, the following is our thinking:
Since we had already agreed on a monthly payment for the services rendered, 4-5 weeks would give them ample time to receive the development and disappear. Remember, they delayed payment even further by making us go back and forth with that bogus "transaction ID" they gave us. having said that, there is one thing that we still do not understand and that is the following:
Were those development jobs their own in-house projects or were they just middlemen and having these applications developed for their clients? We know they were not total novices as one of the thieves was a project manager. In either case, they must have known that come production time, such projects would need support, especially if they were developed in 4-5 weeks time limit! Maybe they had a paid support team, but then again, they would still had to know the projects flow intimately in order to be able to provide timely support.
Unfortunately, it was not only us who were scammed by these thieves, we know of at least 2 other development companies who fell victims to these scum bags. Maybe they find this article and feel like contributing, we will see. In the meantime, stay watchful of scams ss they come in all shapes and forms. Sometimes I wonder why some people share so much info about themselves on social media! If you are a developer, however, we recommend that you be extra careful by developing on your own server, demo, get paid, release and move on.